Senso-Ji Temple – The Oldest in Tokyo
Senso-Ji is the oldest and most popular temple in Tokyo. The centerpiece of charming Asakusa, you can't afford to miss Senso-Ji Temple while in the capital.
Senso-Ji Temple, the heart of east Tokyo’s Asakusa district, is the oldest and most popular temple in the whole city. The temple complex is large, calming, beautiful and is complimented by the surrounding traditional shopping streets and alleys. Visiting during the day, night or around the time of the annual festival (matsuri) is a must for any visitor to Tokyo.
Senso-Ji Temple Overview
Dedicated to the goddess Kannon Bodhisattva, Senso-Ji has a rich history. Legend states that in 628, two brothers (Hamanari and Takenari Hinokuma) were out fishing on the Sumida River when they happened across a submerged statue of the goddess Kannon. Hearing of the discovery, the local lord, Haji No Nakamoto, was keen to honor the statue. Resultingly, construction of a temple began in haste and was finally completed in 645.
On arrival in Asakusa, you’ll be greeted by the imposing “Kaminarimon” (Thunder Door) – the main entrance and easiest way to access the temple. Passing under it, below the giant red lantern at its center, you’ll make your way onto “Nakamise-Dori.”
Lined with stalls selling traditional trinkets, clothes, food and handicrafts, Nakamise-dori is Tokyo’s premier souvenir spot. You’ll be lucky to see the street without crowds but don’t despair – a (necessarily) slow walk down the avenue allows one to take in the myriad sights and sounds on offer.
At the end, reach the Hōzōmon Gate, with three more impressively large lanterns at its center.
Pass through to finally enter the temple complex proper, where, once you’ve purified yourself with incense, you can wander around the incredibly well-maintained buildings and marvel at the craftsmanship.
The Sanja Matsuri
The Sanja Matsuri is one of the largest Mikoshi (portable shrines) festivals in the country. Every year, hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists visit Asakusa during the three days of festivities. A sea of people allows the shrines to float down the road with seeming (but deceptive) ease. Also catch an array of float parades, dance performances and music in the vicinity. The carnivalesque vibe is infectious, filling the Asakusa air with a unique joviality.
Senso-Ji at Night
After sunset, Asakusa, the temple especially, has its daytime beauty accentuated by carefully curated illuminations. The main hall and pagoda both take on an almost unreal quality and become hauntingly beautiful. What’s more, the thinned out crowds make the whole place feel a lot more intimate.
Address: 2-Chome 3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Phone: +81 3-3842-0181
Getting to Sensoji Temple
Alight at Asakusa Station
Duration Of Visit
Half a day is enough.
Period Of Visit